Kojo Nnamdi, a radio host at my local NPR station, did a wonderful show yesterday on happiness. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m obsessed with questions of happiness and the science of happiness, so this show was right down my alley. Here’s the show’s description:

You know happiness when you feel it — but do you know what causes it, or how your happiness compares to that of friends and neighbors? We look at the study of what researchers call “subjective well-being” and the latest theories on what makes individuals and nations happy.

You can listen to the show in its entirety by following this link and clicking on “Real Audio” or “Windows Media Player” to the right of the description. It’s free.

The scientists featured on the show have some interesting findings. For one, they found a correlation between money and happiness. In other words, money does make you happy, or so they say. I actually think they’re wrong about this, but only because they’re measuring the wrong thing. Ponder this: when I say “money makes you happy,” what do you think about? Do you think about all of the stuff you can buy? Do you think about a new car or a big house or a swimming pool?

Money brings with it many things, but the material things are only one aspect of it; one of the most important aspects of wealth is security. A feeling of security makes everyone happy because we’re wired for security. We like to know we’re safe and taken care of. When we feel unsafe or insecure, we feel sad, lonely, and anxious. So, given this, I do not believe that being able to buy crap is what brings us happiness, but the feeling of security — as a result of wealth — certainly can.

Listen to the show. It’s good.